It was a hard decision. But one of the nearly 300 participants at the 3rd Health Summit sponsored by the Fulton DeKalb
Hospital Authority chose to attend the morning session on Re-entry and Mental Health because she wanted to know more about what mental health resources men and women who had served time in prison or jail had available.
Two other concurrent sessions addressed equally important mental health topics. But once the session began, no one wanted to leave because session presenter, Marcus Carter, provided so much important information.
His facts focused on Fulton County where he holds the title of Licensed Professional Counselor for the Georgia Department of Corrections’ Atlanta Probation Office.
“There are approximately 10,000 people who are under supervision of probation,” Carter explains. “We are probably looking at a good 30-40% who are under probation supervision and have mental health needs at various intensity levels.” He says there are similar percentages for those that are on parole. Carter told the people who attended his session that a continuation of coordinated care is essential to treating mentally ill people as they cycle from being inmates and back into their communities.
Further down the hall the Rosalyn Carter Chair on Mental Health and a Professor at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health explained why communication among physicians from different disciplines, who treat the same patient is also essential. Dr. Benjamin Druss, joined Dr. Martha Ward, the Director of the Park Place Primary Center at Grady’s Outpatient Behavioral Health Department for a session called , Doctor to Doctor. Clinicians who attended learned about cultural and historical reasons some patients have not shared information provided by their primary care physicians with their mental health providers.
The third summit morning session addressed one of the fastest growing demographics in the United States. Five mental health professionals gave presentations during the one-hour and fifteen minute segment titled Seniors and Myths about Aging. Dr. Monica Parker, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine with the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology at Emory University; Leslie Sessley a Licensed Clinical Social Worker; Wendy Schneider LPC, Chief Clinical Officer at Behavioral Health Link; Patrice Earnest, the Coordinator of the Education and Resources Unit at the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Area Agency on Aging and Mary Lou Rahn, the Coordinator of the Crisis Stabilization Unit’s Adult Coalition at the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities each provided specific facts based on their experience.
A working lunch session helped pre-registered participants gain insight about mental health resources available in the state of Georgia.
Then three afternoon sessions addressed completely different mental health topics.
Three separate experts shared information on the subject of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disease) in the Veterans Call to Duty session. Dr. Karen Hochman, the Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Emory University’s School of Medicine, April Edwards, the Clinical Director for the Atlanta Veterans Administration’s Homeless Program and Dr. Monique Hunter, Clinical Psychologist explained to attendees that untreated PTSD symptoms are just as deadly to returning veterans a live fire. They also heledp the audience understand that the disease has claimed lives because people have ignored its symptoms.
A session simply titled Housing also ran from 1:15 Monday afternoon until 2:30 p.m. Carol Collard, PhD and Darlene Schultz were the presenters. Collard is CEO and founder of Caring Works, Inc. Schultz holds that position for Project Interconnections, Inc. Both women explained to a nearly full room of clinicians their methods of helping people with mental illness find suitable places to live.
The Child and Adolescent session had a standing room only crowd. Many attendees wore two hats as they listened to information about mental health issues among young people. Almost all were clinicians, but many were also parents. “My presentation dealt with at risk youth,” Dr. Sandra Elizabeth Ford, pediatrician, District health Director of the DeKalb County Board of Health and presenter said. “As you can see in the news right now, our kids are in crisis. One of the points of my presentation is to explain how they got there. We have a Youth Risk Behavior Survey we do every two years in DeKalb County Public Schools and the information there is just shocking.” Dr. Ford told attendees that partner violence, bullying and body image issues can all affect children, even those who are just in grade school.
“All of these things start very young and then they manifest themselves in adolescence.”
The final session of the summit had the largest crowd and the most presenters. An enthusiastic audience welcomed moderator Iyanla Vanzant as she hosted the summit’s public forum from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.
FDHA Chair Thomas W. Dortch, Jr. closed the entire day’s program by telling everyone to save the date 10.28.15 for the 4th annual health summit. The topic next year will be equaling compelling. It’s official subtitle is Sharing Resources to End Violence in Our Communities. It will be held at the Atlanta Hyatt.
Please watch this website for more information.